Indulge in the ultimate comfort food, a timeless classic that has graced dinner tables for generations – irresistible and creamy Macaroni and Cheese.

There’s just something about that perfect blend of tender macaroni enveloped in a velvety, cheese-kissed sauce that warms the soul and beckons you back for seconds.

Picture of Creamy Macaroni and Cheese to delight the senses!

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

In this step-by-step guide, we’ll reveal the secrets to creating macaroni and cheese that’s nothing short of perfection. With its rich, creamy texture and an abundance of cheesy goodness, this recipe promises to elevate your culinary prowess and satisfy even the most discerning taste buds.


For the Macaroni:

  • 8 ounces (about 2 cups) elbow macaroni
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon salt

For the Cheese Sauce:

  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded (optional for extra creaminess)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard (optional)

Topping (Optional):

  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter


1. Boil the Macaroni:

  • In a large pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of salt and stir.
  • Add the elbow macaroni and cook according to the package instructions for al dente (usually around 7-8 minutes).
  • Drain the macaroni and set it aside.

2. Prepare the Cheese Sauce:

  • In a separate saucepan, melt the 1/4 cup of butter over medium heat.
  • Once the butter is melted, add the 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour, stirring constantly to make a smooth roux. Cook for about 2 minutes, but do not let it brown.

3. Add Milk and Make the Sauce:

  • Gradually pour in 2 cups of whole milk, continuing to whisk constantly to avoid lumps.
  • Cook the mixture until it thickens, about 5-7 minutes. Stir regularly.
  • Reduce the heat to low, and add 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese and 1 cup of mozzarella (if using).
  • Stir until the cheese is completely melted and the sauce is smooth.
  • Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, and any optional spices like paprika or ground mustard.

4. Combine the Pasta and Sauce:

  • Add the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce, and gently stir until the pasta is well coated.

5. Optional Topping:

  • In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons of melted butter.
  • Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the macaroni and cheese.

6. Bake (Optional):

  • Place the macaroni and cheese in the preheated 375°F (190°C) oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden and bubbling.

7. Serve:

  • Allow the macaroni and cheese to cool slightly before serving.
  • Garnish with a little extra shredded cheddar cheese or fresh parsley, if desired.

Mac ‘n Cheese Tips

  • Feel free to customize your mac and cheese by adding diced cooked bacon, sautéed onions, or your favorite vegetables.
  • Use good-quality, sharp cheddar cheese for the best flavor.
  • Don’t overcook the pasta initially, as it will continue to cook in the oven if you choose to bake it.
  • Experiment with different cheese blends for unique flavors.

Whether you’re whipping up a weeknight dinner, planning a cozy family gathering, or simply craving a nostalgic, homemade delight, this Creamy Macaroni and Cheese recipe is your ticket to a culinary journey that marries simplicity and indulgence.

Nutritional Info

Nutritional Information (per serving, assuming 6 servings, without optional breadcrumb topping):

  • Calories: Approximately 480 calories per serving.
  • Protein: About 18-20 grams.
  • Carbohydrates: Approximately 40-45 grams.
  • Dietary Fiber: 1-2 grams.
  • Sugars: 5-6 grams.
  • Fat: Approximately 26-28 grams.
  • Saturated Fat: About 16-18 grams.
  • Cholesterol: Approximately 75-90 milligrams.
  • Sodium: About 600-700 milligrams.
  • Calcium: Approximately 450-500 milligrams.
  • Iron: About 1-2 milligrams.

Keep in mind:

  • The optional breadcrumb topping will add extra calories, fat, and carbohydrates.
  • The nutritional values can vary based on the type and brand of cheese, milk, and other ingredients used.
  • Portion sizes can greatly impact the nutritional content, so adjust accordingly.

Macaroni and cheese is a delicious but indulgent dish, and the nutritional information reflects this.

To make it a bit healthier, you can consider using whole wheat pasta, reduced-fat cheese, and lower-fat milk, or adding vegetables to increase the fiber and nutrient content. Of course, portion control is key to managing the 480 calorie intake.

Optional Vegetables in the Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Adding vegetables to your creamy macaroni and cheese can enhance both the flavor and nutrition of the dish. Here are some vegetables that pair well with macaroni and cheese:


Steamed or blanched broccoli florets are a classic addition to mac and cheese. The slight bitterness and crunch of broccoli complement the creamy and cheesy sauce.


Like broccoli, cauliflower florets can be steamed or blanched and added to the macaroni and cheese. They absorb the cheesy sauce nicely and add a mild, nutty flavor.


Fresh spinach can be wilted into the hot mac and cheese just before serving. It wilts quickly and adds a pop of color and a slightly earthy flavor.


Sweet peas, whether fresh or frozen, provide a burst of color and a touch of sweetness that contrasts well with the richness of the cheese sauce.

Bell Peppers:

Sautéed or roasted red, yellow, or green bell peppers can add a nice crunch and a hint of sweetness.


Sautéed mushrooms, such as cremini or shiitake, bring an earthy and savory dimension to the dish. They pair well with the cheese sauce.


Sliced or diced tomatoes can add a refreshing and slightly acidic contrast to the creamy mac and cheese. Cherry tomatoes work nicely as well.


Sautéed onions, whether red, white, or yellow, add a sweet and savory depth of flavor. Caramelized onions can be especially delicious.

Zucchini or Yellow Squash:

Sliced and sautéed zucchini or yellow squash can bring a mild, tender, and slightly sweet component to the dish.


Blanched or roasted asparagus spears offer a crisp texture and a touch of earthiness that complements the cheesy sauce.

TIP: To add vegetables to your macaroni and cheese, simply cook them separately. Then stir them into the mac and cheese at the end of the recipe, just before serving.

This way, you can customize your mac and cheese to your taste and enjoy a delicious and balanced meal.

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese Side Dishes:

If you’re looking for vegetable side dishes to serve alongside your creamy macaroni and cheese, there are plenty of options that can provide a well-rounded and nutritious meal.

Here are some vegetable side dishes that pair beautifully with mac and cheese:

Roasted Vegetables:

Roasted vegetables like carrots, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, or a medley of mixed vegetables can add a pop of color and a delightful roasted flavor to your meal.

Green Salad:

A simple green salad with fresh lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and a light vinaigrette is a refreshing choice to balance the richness of mac and cheese.

Steamed Asparagus:

Tender, steamed asparagus spears with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese can be an elegant and healthy side.

Grilled Corn on the Cob:

Grilled corn on the cob slathered with butter and your choice of seasonings is a classic and satisfying option.

Sautéed Spinach or Swiss Chard:

Quickly sautéed spinach or Swiss chard with garlic and a dash of lemon juice can add a healthy, vibrant side to your meal.


A tangy coleslaw made with cabbage, carrots, and a creamy dressing can provide a refreshing contrast to the richness of the macaroni and cheese.

Garlic Roasted Broccoli:

Roast broccoli florets with olive oil and minced garlic for a flavorful, crispy side dish.

Honey-Glazed Carrots:

Honey-glazed carrots, cooked until tender and lightly caramelized, bring sweetness and color to the plate.

Grilled or Sautéed Mushrooms: Whether you choose portobello, cremini, or shiitake mushrooms, they can be a savory and satisfying side dish.

The choice of side dish can depend on your personal preferences and the occasion. Whether you prefer something light and refreshing or a heartier option, these vegetable side dishes will complement the creamy macaroni and cheese and create a balanced, satisfying meal.

Dinner Table Fodder

Macaroni and cheese, often referred to as mac and cheese, is a beloved and iconic dish with a history that dates back centuries.

While it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact origin and inventor of this comfort food classic, here are some interesting tidbits about the history of macaroni and cheese:

Ancient Origins:

Pasta and cheese dishes have been consumed for centuries. Ancient Romans enjoyed a dish called “laganum,” which featured layers of pasta and cheese. It’s considered an early precursor to modern macaroni and cheese.

Medieval European Versions:

In medieval Europe, macaroni and cheese-like dishes were commonly prepared with pasta and cheese. These early versions were often baked.

Thomas Jefferson’s Influence:

In the United States, Thomas Jefferson is often credited with popularizing macaroni and cheese.

He encountered a similar dish while traveling in Europe and brought back a pasta machine and a recipe for macaroni. He is said to have served “macaroni pie” at a state dinner in 1802 during his presidency.

Jefferson’s version used macaroni noodles and a Parmesan cheese sauce.

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese:

In the 20th century, macaroni and cheese became widely accessible and popular due to the introduction of boxed macaroni and cheese products.

Kraft Dinner, introduced in 1937 by Kraft Foods, was one of the first and most iconic boxed mac and cheese products.

Variations Worldwide:

Macaroni and cheese, or variations of it, can be found in many cultures around the world.

  • Italy has pasta dishes like “maccheroni al gratin”
  • France has “gratin de macaroni”
  • The Caribbean has “macaroni pie”
  • United Kingdom enjoys “macaroni cheese”

Each has its own unique twist on the classic.

Gourmet Mac and Cheese:

In recent years, macaroni and cheese has experienced a resurgence, with gourmet versions featuring various cheeses, ingredients like truffles, and creative toppings.

National Macaroni and Cheese Day:

July 14th is celebrated as National Macaroni and Cheese Day in the United States, a day for people to indulge in this beloved comfort food.

Macaroni and Cheese Contests:

Some regions and cities in the United States host macaroni and cheese contests and festivals, where chefs and home cooks compete to create the most delicious and creative versions of the dish.

Macaroni and cheese has certainly evolved over the centuries and become a beloved staple in many households.

Whether you prefer a classic homemade version or a quick boxed variety, it continues to be a cherished and comforting dish for people of all ages.

Enjoy your homemade creamy macaroni and cheese! It’s a comforting and classic dish that’s perfect for any occasion.